B.K. Bass is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and horror inspired by the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century and classic speculative fiction. He is a student of history with a particular focus on the ancient, classical, and medieval eras. He is also part owner and Acquisitions Director of Kyanite Publishing. He enjoys discovering new talent and helping them to bring their voice and vision to the people of the world.
I first became aware of BK’s work on Twitter, through some connections with other Authors, and was impressed with his quirky, thought provoking comments he would post on the platform. After a few exchanges with him I came to learn that he’s an author, a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy books, and an RPG Gamer. So it was an easy decision to invite him to participate in the Creating Awesome Project, to which he quickly responded, “I’m totally on board… Where do I sign up?” And he even offered to send me a PDF of his latest book, What Once Was Home.
Creating Awesome is an ongoing project in which I collaborate with artists, writers, filmmakers, business people and other creative people. Through a series of interviews, I try to examine the underlying motivation and inspiration of the creative mind.
The interviews are designed to explore which areas of interest, experiences and background, might contribute to one’s creativity, and determine how people, places and events in one’s life, may influence the creative process.
Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to collaborate on this interview and contribute some of your insights and inspirations to the Creating Awesome Project, BK. Also, thank you for letting me read some of your work, to help me prepare for this interview. It’s truly a pleasure to have read your latest work, What Once Was Home.
B.K. – You’re welcome! Thank you for having me on the Creating Awesome Project. I’m very excited to be a part of this. And I’m simply happy to be sharing my stories, so I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed What Once Was Home!
Early Life Experiences
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Orlando, Florida. My family moved not long after that though, so most of my youth was spent in a small city just outside of Daytona Beach, Florida.
Please describe a favorite place from childhood and explain how it might have impacted your creativity?
That’s an easy one for me! Growing up in Florida, we took a lot of trips to Disney World. I can definitely draw a correlation, because a big focus of my writing is immersing my readers into the worlds within my books. When you walk around Disney World, there’s all kinds of minute details that suck you into another place and time. From architectural styles to knick-knacks on a shelf, there’s layers of worldbuilding that go into the theme parks. It’s these kinds of details that I use to bring the worlds in my books to life.
What era did you grow up?
I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. I can definitely say this had an impact on my love of science fiction and fantasy. Star Wars was huge, animation was exploring these genres, and Dungeons and Dragons was in its heyday—along with all the great (and not so great) novels that sprung from that.
What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory is from when I was about five years old. I was in the back of the car when we were moving to a new town from Orlando. I don’t remember anything before that moment. I think that stands out because it was the first time I had truly gone somewhere new and unfamiliar, and I wasn’t going back. It’s kind of like Bilbo running out of the Shire yelling, “I’m going on an adventure!”
Who or what event contributed most to your passion for storytelling?
I had a “homeroom” period in 5th grade. It was essentially flex time we could use either for catching up on homework or reading, but we had to read from a small library provided in the class. I picked up a collection of Greek mythology and was instantly in love. The adventure, monsters, and heroes were like nothing I’d ever seen before. From there, I took a deep dive into the rabbit hole of fantasy literature and never looked back. That also served as a tip to the iceberg, so to speak, because from there I started reading all sorts of genres. In the same class I started reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe, and that showed me the power of the written word to strike emotions and build tension. Those two influences together are the foundation that everything I’ve read or written grew from.
Have you had any jobs, that may have influenced your creativity?
I’ve been lucky to have had a career spanning military service, hospitality management, medical administration, retail, and manufacturing. The common thread among all of these is interacting with people of diverse backgrounds. I feel that the best way to create an engaging story is by creating relatable, living characters. Having interacted with so many different types of people over the last 25 years has given me a wealth of research into the human condition that you can’t find anywhere else.
Interests and Influences
Please discuss other areas of interest and influences below:
Favorite music or band?
I’m all over the place on this. I’m a metal-head at my core, and industrial metal is my favorite genre. Bands like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Helmet, Ramstein, Slipknot, Mudvayne, and Hellyeah are some of my go-to artists. But, I also like some electronic music, alternative, and just good old rock. As I grow older, I’m also discovering a love for Jazz. My guilty pleasures are disco and ‘80s synth pop. Best song ever written? Africa by Toto.
Favorite movie? Why?
This is a hard one. I’m a huge film buff, and my tastes are all over the place here as well. If I had to pick just one though, it would have to be Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is because of the conflict between Kirk and Khan. They never meet face to face, yet they’re locked in this epic duel—and it’s not a physical challenge: it’s a duel of the minds. Who can out-think the other? The climactic battle is an eloquent slow-burn dance of wit against wit, and I can’t think of another movie that captures this kind of contest with such high stakes as the hundreds of crew members relying on Kirk to keep them alive.
I’m going to have to go with The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, the first book in The Wheel of Time series. I’m a sucker for the old “farm boy sucked into epic adventure” trope. There’s plenty of books that do this, but this one captures that with a varied cast of dynamic characters that each have believable motivations. You could say the same about The Fellowship of the Ring, but everybody’s motivation other than Frodo’s is “I’m with him.” In The Eye of the World, you don’t know who the main character is right off the bat. Rand, Mat, and Perrin might each have a greater part to play; and that mystery is not only part of the fun, but also makes each of them feel equally important.
That’s definitely going to be R.A. Salvatore. All of his books are incredibly immersive, making you feel like you’re right in the worlds he’s writing. That’s balanced perfectly with dynamic, relatable characters and fast-paced action. The only author I’ve ever binge-read was Salvatore, and I remember staying up all night to read Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn all in one sitting.
Favorite book or movie character and how do you relate to that character?
I’m going to have to go with Tyrion Lannister from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Tyrion is a misfit and outcast for one, which is something I’ve always felt was my lot in life. Despite his physical condition from his dwarfism, he’s one of the most powerful figures in the series because he can out-think everybody else. I think any author can sympathize with the feeling of never truly fitting in, because we’re the brainy sort in a world that seems to focus more on physical attributes. His incredible intelligence in a world dominated by the strong arm wielding the sword, I think, is inspirational to anybody who’s ever felt this way.
Brom, without a doubt. The artwork he did for the Dark Sun setting for Dungeons and Dragons back in the 1990s, along with the novels that sprang from that, was something entirely unique. He managed to take the fantasy elements we’re all familiar with and put a new edge on them, and in doing so he established a vision for that setting that not only enhanced the Dark Sun experience, but felt like it defined it.
Worst fear? Why?
I would have to say my worst fear is obscurity. One of my biggest motivations for writing is to leave something worthwhile behind after I’m gone. I want to contribute something to our society, and my writing is how I want to go about doing that. I don’t care about being “famous,” I just don’t want to be forgotten.
Being a fan of fantasy I’m sure you’re familiar with “The Inklings“; The literary club of J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis and others from that era of fantasy novels? If you were in a literary group like this, which modern day writers would you wish to have in that group with you?
That’s a tough one, especially the “modern” aspect of it. I’ve mentioned a lot of my inspirations are drawn from the past. I could name Ed Greenwood, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, David Weber, and John Ringo. These are some of my favorite authors that are still alive. I’m lucky though that as a publisher, I already have a great circle of colleagues that I work with on a regular basis. Sam Hendricks, Michael D. Nadeau, Enkelli Arn Robertson, Joe Kassabian, Aisha Tritle, Danielle Ancona, Phebe Yawson, Chad D. Christy, Professor Cognome, and others (to whom I apologize for not listing you all.) If it really came down to it, I don’t think I’d change a thing.
World Building – A Creative Process
One of the lines from your book What Once Was Home really stood out for me. “Trying to make a difference, makes a difference.” I thought this was incredibly profound and it seems to be a call out to everyone to do something meaningful with their time on this planet.
There’s also a section of the story that deals with how horrible humans can be to one another, even in the face of alien invasion and impending extinction of our species.
You explore some pretty deep themes in this book. What kind of research did you do to prepare for this story?
Honestly, I’ve been researching this story for forty years. I poured my heart and soul into it, and everything from my military experience to simply observing the world around me has informed parts of it. A lot of my books start with a genre and/or plot concept first, and build up from that. This one started with my core values, beliefs, hopes, and fears—not just for myself, but for humanity as a whole. I took all of this and wrapped it up in a story that I hope is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.
What led you to the conclusion that humanity can be so self-destructive?
One need only turn on the television and watch the news to get an impression of this concept, but as a student of history I can say this is nothing new. We’ve been fighting with each other since the dawn of recorded history, and most likely well before that. Everything from a stolen goat to economic and religious ideology has lead us to conflict. Human history is a timeline punctuated by strife, war, and atrocity. I will take a moment to say that between all this there is a true beauty to humanity. There is a charity we can have for one another, the miracle of creativity we can find in the arts, and a constant urge to better ourselves that have all survived this history of conflict. That dichotomy is fascinating, but it also makes those moments of self-destruction that much more tragic.
What compelled you to examine these issues in your book?
There’s one key question that lies at the heart of the book: Can one retain their moral compass in the face of impossible decisions? I mention in the introduction to the book that my father taught me one key rule: do the right thing. This was reinforced when I was in the Army. And, I’ve lived my life by this rule. Always do the right thing, and you’ll have no regrets. It’s harder than it sounds though. Most decisions in life aren’t black and white, and it’s hard to know which path is the best. Often, there is no “good” choice, and we have to choose the lesser of two evils. I wanted to explore this idea in an extreme situation, and also compare two different approaches to answering the question embodied by Jace and Matheson, where they approach it from libertarian and authoritarian perspectives, respectively.
The locations in your story are very descriptive and seem well researched. How do you choose locations for your stories?
The answer to this for What Once Was Home is similar to the research question from above: life. I lived in the Appalachians for several years, and the region in western North Carolina that is described is inspired by the time I spent in and around Asheville, NC. The town are all made up though, until you get to Pigeon Forge. Most of the town are amalgamations of various towns and cities I lived in or visited in my time in the region. Pigeon Forge though is iconic with its main-strip tourist-trap, and I’ve visited there several times. That familiarity was important to this story, because so much of what went into it was personal. Also, it’s a remote region of rough terrain and dense forests that I think is ideal for waiting out the apocalypse!
Many artists and writers integrate pieces of their own life into their work, relying on personal experiences and connections to establish a sense of reality in their conceptual vision. I know this story was exceptionally personal to you.
How much real life do you put into your work?
What Once Was Home is honestly the exception to the rule. Like I mentioned, I poured myself into this. My values, experiences, hopes, and fears all went into this. Most of my other books are fun-first, although I do tend to inject a bit of my personal values into them in some way. There’s always some deeper theme hidden under the surface, such as economic disparity in The Ravencrest Chronicles and social mobility in Warriors of Understone.
How do you research characters for your stories?
This goes back to the question earlier about jobs. I’ve spent 25 years working with other people, a lot of times in public-facing roles. I’ve done a lot of customer service work, be it in retail, hotels, or medical offices. Interacting with so many different people has given me an arsenal of personalities to work with. Also, I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies, so many I couldn’t even guess the number on each, and this is a great way to learn how to present characters to an audience.
Which characters in your stories do you associate with most?
Harold Peterson from my Night Trilogy (Night Shift, Night Life, and Night Shadow). This is a hardboiled detective story in a cyberpunk setting. Harold is grumpy, cynical, and jaded. He’s had a tough life and just wants to catch a break. He doesn’t have time for your whining, either; but if you really need help, he’ll do the right thing and do what he can for you. It might not be pretty or popular, but I’m most like him out of all my characters.
What draws you to Fantasy and Science Fiction?
It’s definitely the escapism. If you can’t tell yet, I’m not the biggest fan of the real world. I think everybody just wants to get away sometimes, and speculative fiction is a great pathway to this. There’s a reason the pulp magazines printing weird fiction back during the depression became so popular: life sucked and people needed an escape. On the other side of the coin though, I see speculative fiction as a great lens through which we can analyze our own world. Looking at these key concepts like morality and social inequity in a fantasy or science fiction story not only makes the task more bearable, it gives us a chance to look at it from new angles.
Are there any other genres you would like to work in?
I’m actually a big fan of mysteries, and I’m working that into the umbrella of speculative fiction. I already mentioned my hardboiled detective story with a cyberpunk setting. I’m also planning a supernatural cozy mystery series set in 1925 Louisiana.
You’ve mentioned gaming in this and other discussions, how has gaming impacted your career as a writer?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a fan of storytelling in any medium. When you explore ideas from a variety of approaches, I think you can discover things about stories you may not have from a single approach. Video games in particular provide a unique experience where you get to feel like you are the protagonist. Seeing and hearing the details of the world first-hand, feeling the tension of the danger around the next corner; these are levels of immediate immersion that I think are unique to gaming. I think this has helped me to create more immersion in my writing, too. I can’t say I’ve personally delved into ancient ruins with sword in hand, but by proxy of gaming I’ve had a taste of the experience.
Can you name a few of your favorite games?
For tabletop gaming, I’ve spent the most time with Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve been playing that since 2nd edition. Also Magic: The Gathering, Pathfinder, Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K, and a slew of board games like Elder Sign and the World of Warcraft board game.
For electronic gaming, big stand-outs for me are the Total War series, the Elder Scrolls series, Baldur’s Gate I & II, the Mass Effect trilogy, the Dragon Age trilogy, and recently Pathfinder: Kingmaker; to name but a few!
Is / Was your role mainly a “Player Character” or “Game Master”?
In tabletop RPGs I’ve usually been a player, although I have GM/DM’d a few times. I’ve probably spent more time developing worlds and campaigns than actually playing though, even if many of them were left on the shelf.
Do you still engage in gaming now, and what games do you play?
I’m limited to electronic gaming for now. I moved a few years ago, and unfortunately there isn’t a gaming community here. I’m on my first playthrough of Pathfinder: Kingmaker right now, and loving it. I keep coming back to Total War: Rome II as well. I have a few campaigns that are in mid-stride there, including one where I’ve built a rather large Parthian empire.
How do you fit that into your busy schedule?
I try to take weekends off. Work-life balance is very important. My natural instinct is to keep going 24/7, but I have to make myself put things aside and relax when Friday afternoon rolls around. Things still pop up over the weekend, but if it can wait till Monday I’ll just add it to the list. I get a few late night gaming sessions in during the week too, but since I usually get up around 5am every day that just leads to more consumption of coffee.
Any online gaming?
I don’t do much online. You’ll catch me on Titanfall every once in a while, or Star Wars Battlefront II, but for the most part I prefer single-player games or the tabletop. Role playing and strategy games are the genres I gravitate to the most.
Professional vs Personal Projects
In preparing for this interview I listened to some other interviews you’ve done and it’s obvious you have an incredibly deep knowledge of your craft and the publishing industry.
Which part of the creative process do you enjoy most? And why?
This might come across as quite a generic answer, but honestly it’s the storytelling itself. I love a good story, be it in a book, a film, or even a video game. Even in casual conversation, I often find myself telling stories of events from my own past. I’m a panster by nature, although I’ve been working more on outlining as I hone my craft to create more intricate stories with multiple interwoven plots. As I write, even with an outline, the story is unfolding before me. This discovery of more about the setting, characters, and plots as I write is what brings me back to it. I love tying all the threads together, but even more I love the feeling of not knowing how they’ll tie together until it happens.
As an Indie writer, what challenges do you encounter throughout the creative process, and how difficult is it to manage those?
I would say the creative process itself isn’t the biggest challenge. I think we all write because we love it, and although it does offer its own unique hurdles to overcome, that love makes the journey as exciting as the result. The real challenge is the business of writing. Networking, marketing, design, and all the other things that come with it are the real challenge. We’d all be content to simply spend all our time writing new stories, but when you are an author—indie or otherwise—you’re also a business owner. Setting my involvement with my publishing company aside, “B.K. Bass” is a business. Managing all of that and not letting it get in the way of the joy of creation is the biggest challenge.
What does it take to become a good storyteller?
I think the single best thing a storyteller can do to better themselves is consuming as many stories as they can. The media isn’t as important, although you definitely need to read to learn to be a better writer. But, you can learn to be a better storyteller from television, movies, video games, and observing life in general. Absorb as many stories as you can. Everything from a conversation with a family member to the latest summer blockbuster can teach you something about stories.
Most writers have a day job and do their writing on the side. Your situation is a little different, being part owner of Kyanite Publishing. It seems this would afford some distinct advantages to getting your work out to the public. True or False? And what are those?
I would say it’s true, but it does come with limitations. I pretty much know as long as I don’t write garbage it’ll get published. My business partner isn’t going to let me get away with publishing just anything. But, as long as I keep my quality equal to or better than what I’ve done so far, I know she’ll give it the green light. So, I don’t have to go through the process of querying. We are a small press though, so there’s no instant superstardom or $150,000 advances. I still have a goal of getting something published by one of the “big guys,” but since the most important thing to me is getting my stories in the hands of readers, most of it will go through Kyanite. The benefits come with a cost though, in that I spend a lion’s share of my time on other people’s writing now. Between acquisitions, editing, coaching, design, running the business, and all that comes with that; I probably average about 60 hours a week and will be lucky to spend 5 of that working on my own books.
How do you transition from writing to publishing and then promoting a project?
For me, it’s a continuous cycle. There’s B.K. the author, and then there’s B.K. the publisher. They both work every week. Once I finish writing a book and it becomes part of the Kyanite catalog, the publisher side takes over and it gets treated the same as any other book we publish. Also, once I finish writing a book, I’m already working on another. Often I have several in different parts of the process, so there’s almost never a feeling of ending one project and beginning another. It’s a cycle that just keeps going.
What helps you make that transition?
The fact that I’m a full-time publisher is a big advantage here. Because I’m always looking at editing, formatting, design, marketing, etc; there’s no moment where I have to shift gears. Like I said, once one of my books enters the company hands, it’s simply on the to-do list with everything else.
Does your personal work influence your professional work and vice versa?
I say that writing is a journey of constantly learning, practicing, and honing our craft. Working as an editor with Kyanite has given me the opportunity to learn more about writing than I ever could have on my own. Seeing how other people write in the raw form of a manuscript, then figuring out how to polish that up, has allowed me to see many things in a new light. Every time I go back to my own writing, I see things there that I discovered in somebody else’s manuscript. I may have corrected a flow issue in another book that I see as a trend in my own writing. I think it works the other way around, too. As I write more and get better at it, I can transfer that knowledge and those skills to my editing and help other works and authors to improve.
What motivates you to continue creating art day after day, and what do you consider the greatest reward for your efforts?
The sheer joy of storytelling for its own sake is what keeps me going. I love doing this, and I have more ideas floating around in my head begging to be told than I’ll ever manage to finish. The desire to tell as many of them as possible is a huge motivator. I’m no spring chicken, so I know the clock is ticking. I have a lot of writing to do, and I don’t see that I have any time to waste. That keeps me going more than anything. The biggest reward? When somebody reads something I wrote and then says they loved it. They got enjoyment from it, had fun, learned something new, or had the opportunity to consider an issue from a new perspective. All of these aspects of the reader experience are important, but if I manage to strike just one of these chords with each person who reads one of my books, I call that a win.
What is your dream job?
What I’m doing right now. Writing books, helping others to get their stories out into the world. Teaching what I know about the craft. Every aspect of what I do now, in all its myriad facets, are all part of my dream job.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give writers, to help them stand out from the masses, when submitting a work for publishing through your company?
I would say the single most important thing when querying anything to any agent or publisher is the first page of your sample or manuscript. I think just about any acquisitions editor or agent will tell you that if the first page doesn’t sell them on the story, they often won’t bother to read past it. When we have 20, 50, or 200 samples waiting to be read, there isn’t time to slog through to your “Aha!” moment on page 75. That translates to book sales, as well. Be it a shelf browser in a bookstore or a sample shown on Amazon’s website, if the reader isn’t sold by your first page, they won’t be sold at all.
Submissions for short fiction are open now! KyanitePress
The Future of Storytelling
I’ve found that many creative people that I interview have a vivid imagination, with a desire to impact the future. Would you say that’s true for you? Are you a futurist?
I think anybody who writes science fiction is a futurist, but it’s part of a set of layers for me. My first love is definitely fantasy, followed by science fiction. In the same regard, I’d present myself as a historian first and futurist second. That being said, I feel we need to understand our past to prepare ourselves for the future. Do I enjoy pondering what might be in store for us? Of course. But, I’ll admit the time I spend in my head is divided with more emphasis on the past.
Do you feel that writers / filmmakers have a responsibility to address religious / political / social issues in their stories? Or should they just tell good stories and let someone else worry about the problems in our society?
That’s a good question with no simple answer. I’m going to start however by saying no, writers and filmmakers do not have a responsibility to address issues. Any artist—no matter the medium—should be creating what comes natural to them and what they are passionate about. The wonderful thing about art is that it has the potential to be so many different things. If an artist wants to create something simply for enjoyment, pure entertainment or aesthetic, there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t feel a piece of art that doesn’t tackle an issue is any less important than one that does. Entertainment in itself is a worthwhile endeavor, because you’re bringing people joy. All of that being said, if an artist does choose to delve into a deeper theme and address an important issue, they do have a responsibility to treat that issue with a certain level of gravitas. It’s not enough to say “hey, this is bad.” You need to find a way to make your audience consider the implications of the issue, to feel the ramifications of it they might not have otherwise experienced, and provoke them to consider it beyond the experience of the artform itself. I don’t feel we should ever take the attitude of “letting somebody else worry about it” to any kind of issue, but if you don’t have a passion for it, you won’t express concern for it well in what you create. In the end, it’s up to the individual artist to decide how deep they go, if they go at all, into these kinds of issues.
Without getting political, of the many issues our society is faced with today, what do you consider to be the greatest threat to human life on Earth and Why?
This is a pretty broad answer, but I’m very passionate about it being the biggest problem faced by humanity throughout all our history, today, and the future. That is divisiveness. We all can accomplish so much more when we work together, and we hinder each other so much when we fight. From the “left versus right” feud prevealent in U.S. politics today to the very old Christianity versus Islam conflict that has bathed entire cities in blood through our history; we have always seemed to find more reason to hate each other than work together towards a common goal. One could easily say John Lennon answered this problem already:
“Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too.”
But this simply isn’t going to happen, not in our lifetime and probably not for many generations to come. We’ve had social, religious, and economic divisions for thousands of years. They’re not going to just go away in the next ten, twenty, or two hundred. What we need to do is learn to accept our differences, embrace our diversity, and find ways to compromise for the betterment of all mankind.
Do you think this could end the world as we know it, or will humanity pull back from the brink before it’s too late? What do you base your answer on?
It definitely could end the world as we know it, and in a lot of different ways. Of course the most obvious would be that we start launching nuclear weapons at each other and simply erase ourselves from the world. But beyond this are pressing issues like overpopulation, famine, disease, and climate change. Without working together to solve these very real issues threatening us today, the end of civilization as we know it might occur through sheer negligence. Can we pull back from the brink? I believe so, but we’re definitely not on the right path yet. If things stay the way they are now, they aren’t going to get any better.
If you could create a character to deal with that issue, what would that character look like?
I think if one person alone could make an important change on such a sweeping, fundamental, global level; they would have to be an amazingly charismatic orator and leader of the people. This would have to be somebody who could convince everybody to lay aside their differences and work together. Don’t ask me what they would say or how they would do it, though. If I knew that, I’d be that person; and I definitely am not that person.
Do you feel that emerging technologies like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence have been well represented in Indie Speculative Fiction?
I think virtual reality has gotten a lot of focus, as well as how the connected world has wormed its way into every aspect of our lives. I’ve seen a lot of pieces, even just through my work with Kyanite, that deal with the “connected life” and virtual reality. It’s one of the biggest themes I see in science fiction coming across my desk. Artificial intelligence doesn’t seem to be getting as much attention, at least from what I’ve been exposed to. It’s been a hot topic in the news for the last couple of years though, and steadily gaining more attention. I have a feeling we’re going to see a flood of new A.I.-focused fiction coming out very soon from writers who have been paying attention to this.
What other emerging technologies would you like to see better illustrated by today’s writers?
We seem to be on the cusp of a new age of power generation with several teams working on fusion reactors, notably the ITER Tokamak reactor in France. I’d be very interested in seeing speculation on how this might change our society from the ground up. What effects would it have on the economy, the environment, and day-to-day life? What new inventions could be created with the vast amount of energy a system of these reactors would produce?
Have you tried to integrate these technologies into your projects? Or do you plan to do so in the future?
I actually have a military science fiction / space opera series I’m working on called Astra Nautica. It’s in the development and worldbuilding phase right now, but one of the key technological aspects of it is that fusion reactors power the ships, provide plasma for ion thrusters, and create enough energy to be stored in massive capacitors for use in a faster-than-light travel method that’s about 45% science and 55% speculation.
How do you think these technologies will eventually impact society?
The largest benefit of this would be a decreased reliance on fossil fuels, which will have a huge impact on the climate crisis. There will likely be a transitionary period with a lot of other repercussions though. The dream of sustainable fusion power invites visions of a Utopian future of endless clean energy, but for a time there’s going to be the very real issue of those who currently work in the energy industry being put out of business. There’s a lot of coal miners, oil rig workers, and refinery employees who would be without a job if we just flipped on the infinite energy switch (which fusion won’t do overnight, but simply to illustrate the point.)
What other projects, if any, are you working on and when can we find out more about that?
I am currently wrapping up book two of my Night Trilogy: Night Life. That’s slated for release this spring. I have some other sequels in the works as well. Companions of the Stone Road will likely be my next focus, which is the sequel to Warriors of Understone. I have three more books in The Ravencrest Chronicles planned as well. Outside of that I’m starting an epic fantasy trilogy that I’ve been developing for a couple of years now, brewing that space opera and supernatural mysteries I mentioned before, and working on a non-fiction book about applying the principles of cultural anthropology to fantasy worldbuilding. As far as when you’ll hear more, I’d have to be honest and just say “soon.” There’s a lot on the stove, and I’ll be rolling out news as it develops. Following me on Twitter is the best way to keep abreast of any new developments, because I’m more than happy to share what I’m doing there. I’ll often post links to sources with more information as well, such as articles or blog posts on my website.
Connecting With Your Audience
Please talk about your methods of building your audience.
Has it evolved over time, or do you have a formula that’s worked since the beginning?
When I decided to take the leap from hobby to professional writing, I did a lot of research on building an author platform. One of the common threads was creating new content in the form of blog posts or online articles. On source in particular presented a “pyramid of celebrity” where a key step up from the masses was establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Taking those ideas to heart, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and writing on various sub-genres of speculative fiction. I have a series of articles on my website where I do genre studies looking at the common tropes, history, and key influencers in different genres. I also write a column for our Kyanite Press Online called Discovering New Worlds with B.K. Bass, where I’ll do a short genre study followed by a piece of flash fiction in that genre, where I get a chance to try my own hand in that particular sandbox. I’ve also done a lot of work with worldbuilding theory, to the point of now being the writing department head for Worldbuilding Magazine and an active member of the World Anvil community (where I’m proud to say I’ve won several awards for my efforts.)
How do you use social media?
Not well. (Insert laugh track here.) I’m an old dog, but I’m constantly striving to learn new tricks. I’d say what I do best is being a nice person. Through life, people have seemed to like me. That’s translating to my interactions with the writing community on Twitter in particular. I’m by no means a social media influencer or an expert at social media marketing, but by interacting with people on a personal level and treating people with kindness and respect, I seem to have wormed my way into gaining some respect in return.
Have you contributed to any other platforms as guest writer for websites, publications etc?
Yes, I have a number of articles and pieces of short fiction on various blogs and websites. I even won a science fiction short story contest with Lore Publication for a cyberpunk piece I submitted to them. I have several articles published in the Worldbuilding Magazine, and you can expect a new piece in every issue that comes out there. I have a list of what I’ve published online at my website.
Do you actively engage with your audience and how? If so, when did you start this practice, and How has it helped you?
Like I mentioned before, I just try to be a decent person. I would say that most of my audience is on Twitter. I’m always sharing news there about what I’m working on, sometimes some snippets of writing, and on top of that interesting bits of news I might find relating to speculative literature, history, and science. I try to share other people’s good news as well, like new book unboxings and release events. I’ll skim through the feed and engage in conversations, offer help when it’s asked for, or simply share some snark to try to make them laugh. I try not to do hard sales and post ads, but I do want to let people know what I’m working on and when a new book comes out. The “active” part of my engagement though is just trying to be a decent human instead of an advertising channel.
Do you collaborate with other writers? If so, what are you looking for in collaborative Partners?
Yes, I actually have a couple of projects brewing. I’m working on a dieselpunk anthology with one other author, and there’s a trio of us planning to write a novel together from three distinct points of view. I’d say what I would look for most in a collaborative partner is shared interests. Everybody involved in a project needs to share equivalent levels of passion about it, or it won’t work.
How can people find out more about you, and if they’re interested how can they connect with you?
You can find out a lot about me, my books, links to all my online articles from around the web, and a ton of original articles that I talked about above on my website.
The best way to connect with me is via Twitter. As I’ve mentioned that’s where I’m most active online:
You can also interact with myself and the whole Kyanite Publishing family on our Discord server, which you can join by following this invite link: